Eritrean Food Vs. Ethiopian Food: Learn How To Differentiate The Two East African Cuisines

Eritrean and Ethiopian food are both popular cuisines in East Africa but are often overlooked in the world.

They have a lot of similarities but also some differences.

To determine which cuisine is better for you, this article will help you understand more about Eritrean and Ethiopian food and then you can easily choose your favorite one.

What is special about Eritrean food?

Eritrean food is a combination of African, Arab, and Indian cuisine.

It is flavorful with the use of different spices such as curry powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.

The best dishes to get are tsebhi (a stew), kik alicha (split peas cooked in onion sauce), atkilt hilba (green beans mixed with onions), or injera (flatbread).

Despite its small area, Eritrea has a rich culinary tradition that offers both vegetarian and meat-based dishes.

Eritrean food includes different kinds of meat, mainly red meat like beef, goat, and lamb rather than poultry.

The coastal areas also enjoy having fish in their dishes.

In general, Eritrean food is relatively spicy and hot due to the use of various spices in every dish.

What is special about Ethiopian food?

Ethiopian food is a diverse cuisine that has been influenced by centuries of trade with surrounding countries and regions, such as India, Arabia, Europe, and many other parts of Africa.

This means that there are so many ingredients for you to explore.

With an amazing variety of vegetarian dishes, this is a perfect place to start if you’re on a plant-based diet or just want to try something new.

Ethiopia includes a variety of dishes that are made from vegetables, beans, lentils, potatoes, and grains, with meat like beef, lamb, and goat.

These ingredients are usually stewed until tender or even reach a paste form.

Ethiopians then use their right hands to hold flatbread called injera to scoop up bites of other savory dishes on the platter.

Ethiopia is a landlocked country, therefore, most of their protein comes from different types of red meat instead of seafood.

Their stews can be spicy or mild depending on what kind of spices are used in it such as garlic, ginger, turmeric among others.

What are the differences between Eritrean food and Ethiopian food?

Eritrea and Ethiopia are two East African countries that share the same border.

Therefore, their cuisines have been influenced by each other over time.

There are only some minor differences in the ingredients from Eritrean and Ethiopian cooking, as listed below:

Eritrean food includes seafood while Ethiopian cuisine mainly uses red meat

The difference in their main protein sources originates from the difference in their geographical location.

Eritrea has access to seafood because they have coastlines in the east of the country.

Therefore, besides meat, Eritreans also eat seafood like fish or even lobster.

On the other hand, Ethiopia is a landlocked country without any coastal areas, their main protein is from red meat like goat, beef, and lamb.

Eritrean food is usually lighter in texture than Ethiopian dishes

Another difference between Eritrean and Ethiopian food is the texture of their dishes.

In general, light-textured foods are more common in Eritrea while thickly seasoned butter makes up a lot of Ethiopia’s cuisine.

Eritrean food makes use of more tomatoes while Ethiopian food is more onion-based

One more thing that sets Eritrean cuisine apart from Ethiopian cuisine is that in Eritrea, tomatoes are a staple because their cuisine has been strongly influenced by Italian cuisine since Eritrea was the colony of Italy in the past.

There is no surprise that Italian cuisine features a lot of tomato-based dishes, that’s why Eritrean food contains more of this ingredient.

Meanwhile, Ethiopians don’t usually use tomatoes in their cooking, but onion-based dishes instead.

What are the similarities between Eritrean food and Ethiopian food?

In fact, Eritrean food and Ethiopian food are more similar than being different.

Check the following features to see what these two cuisines have in common:

Stews from vegetables and red meat are popular in both cuisines

Stew dishes dominate two cuisines.

From meat-based stews to vegan stews that are made from some popular kinds of vegetables like lentils, potatoes, and beans, all are slow-cooked until tender and can be mashed into a paste form.

Stews are then enjoyed with flatbread that is called injera in either Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Eritrean food and Ethiopian food are both spicy

Another similarity between Eritrean food and Ethiopian food is that their food is both spicy.

Although African food is not the spiciest in the world, they are relatively hot due to their use of various spices like cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, timin, and cloves to create a spicy kick to their dishes.

Eritreans and Ethiopians usually use their right hands to eat

Two cuisines also share the same way to eat their food.

Like Indian people, Eritreans and Ethiopians eat with their right hands.

They use only their fingers to hold injera and scoop up other stew dishes.

Which one is better?

You’ve learned about the similarities as well as differences between Eritrean and Ethiopian food, but now it’s your turn to decide which cuisine is better for you.

In general, these two African cuisines are very much alike.

They both have a lot of delicious dishes that bring people from all around the world in search of them.

You might need to try both cuisines and place them side by side to accurately judge which one tastes better.

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